I have just completed a 30 day Bikram Yoga challenge and I am ecstatic!
The best way to start is to tell you that I am in no way, shape or form a yogi. Surprisingly, after I showed up every single day for a month to a 90 minute yoga class, people started to refer to me as a yogi. This is not at all a bad term, but it is one that I never thought I would identify with. I didn’t even know anything about the famous yogi called Bikram who invented this hot yoga.
For crying out loud, I’m a meat lover who rarely exercised, yet alone owned a yoga mat!
Also, I would choose a loud, chaotically motivational and fast passed spinning class any day of the week over any type of yoga. Music moves and inspires me more than anything. It is hard to believe that I have completed an exercise challenge of roughly 45 total hours in complete sweat and silence (except the repetitive and monotone monologue of the Yoga teacher).
Before I get to the surprising benefits I got from this insane 30 day 105 degrees hot yoga challenge, I will share with you my why.
I am a passionate reader of anything to do with personal growth and development. I have always admired the “gurus” of self development such as Dale Carnegie, Stephen Covey, Napoleon Hill, Zig Zigglar, and Anthony Robbins, among many others. The number one reason I look up to them and consider them my mentors is the fact that they “walk the talk”. These people changed their own lives first, then they became successful by helping others grow and change into the best version of themselves. I believe that we all learn and admire teachers that have been in our shoes before; the ones that didn’t have a head start, but started from zero.
One day, I hope to inspire hundreds, thousands, and (why not) millions of people to change their lives so they can smile more, love more, and impact the world more.
First, I’m working hard on inspiring one person: Me.
Recognizing that I have so much more to learn, to do, and to accomplish, is not easy. Walking the talk is not easy either. I don’t like people telling me what they think my body or my mind is able to do. I don’t like limitations. Plus, I am a rebel at heart. That is why, I am very fond of challenges and dares. My ambition to prove people wrong helps me finish a challenge successfully. I also think that goals and life accomplishments are “easier” if they are thought of as games. Games are always more fun to play!
This 30 day Bikram yoga challenge was not easy. Yet, what challenge is meant to be easy?!
I didn’t think I had it in me to complete it. Almost every day doubt creeped into my mind and I had to battle it with all my inner strength. Every time sweat poured into my nose or ears, instead of being grossed out, I became proud and more aware of all that I gained.
Let me get to the chase, to the reason you are reading this blog in the first place. What are those “surprising benefits”?!
One of them is NOT weight loss. Sorry to disappoint you, but if you were looking for an “easy” way to lose a few pounds, you are out of luck, my friend! Try some other exercise.
I will not lie, this came as a shocker to me too! I was certain that I would loose at least 2 pounds a day, since I was sweating buckets of water! My apple watch kept score of my total burned calories during the class, which ranged between the lowest 263 (during one 60 min. class where I was really lazy) to 600 (my very last 90 min. class where I gave it my all)! I just assumed that my watch wasn’t giving me accurate data. The “rumor” in the yoga studio was that a class burns an average of 800 – 1000 calories! Nope!
I have also found an interesting article that talks about the only scientific study done to analyse the correlation between hot yoga and loosing weight, which makes sense now after my experience. Click on the link if you want to read more on that.
Here’s the good part: losing weight should not be the ultimate or only benefit. We all might need or want to lose some extra pounds, but doing yoga can give us much more! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that yoga is not going to help with tightening those muscles. It might even make you look better in your new jeans. The important thing is to also make sure you watch what you eat. Losing weight is not one sided; you need both good exercise and a good diet to succeed.
Now that we got the weight loss question out of the way, let me share with you my surprising benefits.
30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge Surprising Benefits
Surprising Benefit #1 : EMPOWERMENT
The main “secret” to completing any challenge is to decide you will do so at any cost.
You become empowered when you decide on something. The simple decision “hard wires” your brain into not accepting any excuses or different outcomes. Whenever you start doing something new, your “robot” brain wants to stop you from it and keep doing the old and easy habits from your past. The moment you decide, you take control over it and start teaching it new ways of doing things.
The word and meaning of empowerment came to me in that 105 hot room. I was in control of my body and mind. Even though at times I was so hot that I couldn’t breath, I stayed in the room, controlling my breath and calming down my desperate and negative mind. At other times, I stepped out to catch some cold air and refill my water bottle. I still felt proud of myself, for the simple reason that I allowed myself a break without judgement. After all, showing up to something that you are scared of or weak at, is worth being proud of. Empowerment comes to us both when we are at our strongest and at our weakest moments, as long as we recognize them and push through.
Surprising Benefit #2 : TIME MANAGEMENT
“Nobody has time for that!” is the common reply from most people who think they are “too busy”. They are plagued by this idea that there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything they want. The problem with that is: THAT IS A LIE.
Everyone has the same 24 hours.
Some people are more productive then others. Some of us are better at managing our time than others. Each one of us have different priorities and personalities. Those who manage their priorities know how to manage their time better. Everyone has the ability to decide what is a “non-negotiable” part of their day in order for them to feel happy and successful.
I found myself able to “control” my time better because I was determined to accomplish my goal. It wasn’t easy to “make” time, but I had to be persistent and sometimes vulnerable in order to get my way. I had huge help from my family in order to “free up” my day. Sometimes I fought with my conscious and guilty feelings to make this challenge a priority for me. Also, having to drive an average of 2 hours through heavy traffic daily, made me more conscious of managing my time. I made sure my drive was productive and fun by listening to podcasts, audio books and my favorite dance songs.
Surprising Benefit #3: INCREASED CONFIDENCE
On the front entrance of my yoga studio, on a big poster, it lists all the health benefits of doing Bikram Yoga:
- improves balance and coordination,
- enhances circulation,
- increases flexibility,
- strengthens mental ability to focus,
- builds stronger leaner muscles, and
- optimizes oxygen flow to all organs
Nowhere is the word confidence written down. Yet, I see it all around me. Those men and women who are dripping sweat, looking at themselves in the mirror and focusing on their breath, are examples of confidence. They are at their most vulnerable selves. Drenched in their own sweat, they are fighting each day with their body to get it to where they hope it could get, yet accepting it, caring for it and loving it as it is.
Bikram yoga consists of 26 pose series. All of them done in the same sequence, every class, under a strict monologue of instructions. It might sound boring, but surprisingly, every single day your body responds differently to each individual pose. I had so many days where I didn’t think I had in me to do one more triangle pose and instead I compromised and did a lazy version of it. Or skipped it all together and sat quietly down and observed others push through it and do it.
The pose I am most excited about being able to do is the camel pose.
This pose increased my confidence ten folds! (No actual camel needed!) In the first classes I thought I would soon break my back than even attempt to do it. Repeating the same poses every single day, built my confidence in attempting to do them. Little by little, drop by drop, of salty sweat, I did it.
“Practice makes perfect” they say. I think, Bikram yoga practice increases confidence!
People might see this yoga challenge as either too easy, too crazy or too silly! Regardless, I can tell you that it was worth it.
Even the shavasana pose at the end of class can be challenging. To lay completely still is a big challenge in this fast passed world that simply cannot find time for that. To begin to explain the benefits of doing nothing can be just as challenging as writing this long blog post.
Life’s a challenging game and I’m having fun playing it. I wish you will be inspired to do the same.
With sweat and smiles,